I have visited London many times for both work and leisure, and lived there for a year – long enough to know the good places from the bad, but short enough to not lose the tourist perspective. An entire lifetime wouldn’t be enough to see and know all of London. If you are only coming for a short visit, choosing the right area to stay is essential. It can save you a lot of time and money (and, possibly, trouble).
Best Areas to Stay in London
A few things to keep in mind:
- There are thousands of hotels in London. There is something for every taste and every budget (almost). Accommodation options are endless. However, this also means that simply choosing one hotel from the search results on a major hotel booking website can take a long time (I remember spending about 6 hours on one occasion). This is why this page exists – to make the search process more effective.
- As everybody knows, London is not cheap.
- Distances and travel times can be long. Some people may want to stay further away from London city centre to save money. This is usually bad idea, unless you come to London primarily for the tube and the buses. The difference in room rates is not that big and you can find reasonably priced accommodation even in some of the most central locations (e.g. Victoria).
- Location does matter, but you can’t stay within walking distance from everything. Big Ben and Tower Bridge are very far from one another. Let alone Greenwich.
All Hotels in Central London
- Search all hotels in Central London (London city centre without the further districts and suburbs)
Below you can find basic characteristics of the most popular places to stay in London.
City of Westminster
Westminster is the government district and has the highest concentration of tourist attractions. Landmarks include the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace or London Eye (the latter is technically on the other side of the Thames). Regardless of your purpose for visiting London, Westminster is a safe bet. Downside: It is harder to find cheap hotels here.
- Search hotels in Westminster (only the immediate government district – fewer hotels)
- Search hotels in the whole Westminster Borough (from Parliament up to Hyde Park and Oxford Street)
West End, SoHo, Oxford Street
Also part of the Borough of Westminster, the streets behind Trafalgar Square up to Oxford Street are the real centre of London for shopping and nightlife (go to Piccadilly Circus later in the evening to see). It is also the theatre district, with probably the highest concentration of world-famous theatres in the world. Some of London’s most famous hotels (e.g. the Ritz) are also located here. Again, central location, very convenient, but not a place to stay on a budget.
- Search hotels in London West End
- Search hotels near Piccadilly Circus (best place to stay for nightlife)
- Search hotels near Oxford Street (best place to stay for shopping)
Park Lane and Hyde Park
Some of London’s best hotels are situated on or near Park Lane along the border of Hyde Park. You have the huge park on one side and all the theatres and shops on the other. This is one of the most prestigious locations in London. The hotels are priced accordingly.
City of London
The City is the financial district. It still has more than fair share of monuments, including the Monument (with capital M), the Tower of London, or St. Paul’s Cathedral. The number of hotels is lower than in Westminster and the average room rate even higher (due to the proximity of financial company offices). Nevertheless, the City has unique atmosphere and character (it is “London” in the oldest and narrowest meaning of the name). If you have the budget, the City is a great place to stay.
Victoria and Kensington
Probably the best combination of central location and affordable room rates can be found in the districts of Victoria and Kensington. In case of South Kensington I find this to be a little paradox, because the area is known as an upscale residential district. It is very close to Hyde Park, Green Park, and Buckingham Palace. Moreover, Victoria Station is one of the biggest transportation hubs, with shuttle buses to airports, local bus and tube lines, trains, and London central bus (coach) station. Smart choice, I like this area very much.
- Search hotels in Victoria (best place to stay on a budget)
- Search hotels in South Kensington (south of Hyde Park, west of Victoria)
- Search hotels in Kensington and Chelsea (the entire borough)
So far we have only covered the areas on the northern side of the Thames, which admittedly have more tourist attractions and interesting places. However, it would be a mistake to omit some of the centrally located places on the south bank. Hotels are concentrated mostly close to the Thames.